Medical researchers were three of the six new Companions on the Order of Australia. And they made up 22 of the 46 new Officers.
There are two big reasons for that.
First up is the undoubted service they provide the community.
Second is the immensely organised efforts of medical research lobbies, that, year in, year out, explain why their members and friends are so important to Australia. “Searching for a cure for cancer” has a ring to it.
While medical research and the national interest are surely synonymous the hons system is a great way to make the case for funding – imagine what fine scientists could accomplish with more money.
A decade back there was a budget-time rumour that medical research was to be cut. The response from research groups was swift, and potentially terrible for any minister who even wondered to themselves whether it was worth running a cost benefit analysis of some National Health and Medical Research Council programs.
Lab-coated scientists protested in the streets and the rumours went away – and stayed there.
And lo, a couple of years later mainstream federal funding started to grow, really grow – with the creation of the $20bn endowment Medical Research Future Fund.
But the price of funding is eternal vigilance and the medical research community is admirably assiduous in taking every opportunity to make cases.
The honours system is an one example of cause and effect.